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Thread: Bottling .... an adventure

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2020
    Location
    Springfield, MA
    Posts
    64

    Default Bottling .... an adventure

    Gave way too little thought to bottling this first season. I'm struggling to maintain 180-185 on the stovetop - seems each time I bottle I get more sugar sand. Mainly because there is still a gallon in the pot when it goes below the temperature probe. I will probably crack some open and rebottle.

    My first two sessions were small, 1.25 and under. One very dark and the other batch combing the first two boils for 4 pints plus 12 small jars that yielded Amber Rich.

    IMG_0725.jpg
    IMG_0739.jpg

    Otherwise we have 5 gallons of very dark left to bottle. Dad likes it dark so he is very happy with the results, whereas I like the lighter more amber-colored.

    Looking at canners for next year. WJ canners are pricy, otherwise the electric steam bottler looks like a better choice for the budget. Wondering if that also means a filter press - should I use a canner without the press?
    2020 - 2 taps, 1/2 pint on a turkey fryer, About 3/4 pint syrup in two weeks - Proof of concept!
    2021 - 20 x 30 divided pan, custom Mason arch, 34 producing taps out of 50. 8 gallons for family and friends to judge and Dad hooked as well.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Oneida NY
    Posts
    11,108

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    The two are not necessarily needed to get great results. It does however take some practice. A Steam bottler will help a lot, but it can be done without also.
    Get a smaller pot for bottling from. Before the syrup goes into the pot, filter it well using either a cone filter or better yet, a flat syrup filter. Whichever you use, put 3-5 pre-filters on top of the heavy syrup filter. As each filter gets plugged, carefully empty the syrup into the next layer below without dumping the niter too. If you don't have good success that way, add some syrup grade filter aid. For that, mix in about 2/3 cup for the first gal, and add 1/3 cup for each additional gal to be filtered, mix well in hot syrup, then filter.
    Then as you bottle, only heat as much syrup as you can get into containers before it cools below 180. Heat each batch to about 188 max, then fill the containers. Repeat in like size batches until done.
    Which ever method you choose, the least amount of heating after filtering will yield the best results.
    Dave Klish about 400 taps, down from much more. Retired from collecting and boiling in 2021. Mostly because of a bad hip.
    2012 Mahindra 36 HP 4x4/ loader/cab/heat/AC:-)
    3x8 raised flue evaporator
    250 GPH converted to electric, RO by Ray Gingerich
    6.32 KW solar system, 1.48KW is battery backed up, all net metered
    website: www.cnymaple.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    River Falls, WI
    Posts
    785

    Default

    I heard a trick recently for bottling small batches. Haven't tried it, but if was just bottling up a gallon or two, I would give it a shot. Drumroll please....


    The microwave. You can heat syrup in there without making it cloudy. Food for thought anyway.
    Second generation sap rat.

    Started taking over in 2012
    2012-2016: 300 buckets 120 on gravity tubing. Waterloo 2x10 wood fired. Averaged 105 gallons per season.
    2017: hoping for 300 on 3/16 with Shurflo and 50 buckets. New used 4x14 Algier wood fired cooker. 180 gallons of syrup

    2018: 300 on vacuum 2 buckets, finally got a splitter!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Speyside, Ontario
    Posts
    179

    Default

    For small operations, the best way I've found to reduce sand is to let the syrup settle for a couple days in the fridge between last boil and bottling.

    Carefully avoiding the sand in the bottom while pouring it into the pot to bring up to bottling temp. Then do a final filter with the felt and prefilters while pouring into your bottling container.

    Filter aid does nothing for gravity filters besides clogging the filters.
    2015 - 8 buckets, 332L sap, 8.5L syrup - Barrel evaporator, 2 steam pans
    2016 - 8 buckets, 432L sap
    2017 - 10 bags, 470L sap, 9L syrup
    2018 - 20 bags, 1050L sap, 17.6L syrup
    2019 - 20 bags, 970L sap, 22.2L syrup
    2020 - 17 bags, 813L sap, 17L syrup

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    chester, ma
    Posts
    503

    Default

    Hey Aaron,

    Seems like you wound up with a pretty good season, despite issues with your stack, and a bunch of trees being uncooperative. How much finished syrup did you wind up with?

    Hard to offer any suggestions without knowing:
    1 - how you're filtering and bottling now.
    2 - What's the biggest batches you think you'll need to bottle at a time?

    My last batch I bottled around 2.75 gallons, and I wouldn't change anything in my process. Happy to share what I do, but if you're going much above that regularly, I might not have the right solutions for you.

    GO
    2016: Homemade arch from old woodburning stove. 2 steam tray pans. 6 taps on buckets. 1.1 galls
    2017: Same homemade evaporator, but souped up. Still 2 steam tray pans. 15 taps on buckets. 4.5 galls
    2018: Same setup. Limited time. 12 taps and short season. 2.2 gallons
    2019: Still very limited time. Downsized to 7 taps and a short season. 1.8 gallons
    2020: 9 taps, new Mason 2x3 XL halfway through season, 2 gallons
    2021: 18 taps. Mason 2x3 XL, 4.5 galls

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2020
    Location
    Springfield, MA
    Posts
    64

    Default

    Hi Gabe.

    Ended up with 8 gallons all said and done. Lots of learning in so many topics and Iím loving it.

    The last two batches to boil are about 2-2.5 gallons each. I filtered off the pan but then not again. Temp control on the stovetop should solve the sugar sand issue Iím sure. That and a smaller pot (I added a thermometer to last years turkey fryer pot since it had a spigot) for the last bit.

    I should probably figure out a filtering after heating but before bottling (on the spigot) but donít really have a setup for that.... yet!
    2020 - 2 taps, 1/2 pint on a turkey fryer, About 3/4 pint syrup in two weeks - Proof of concept!
    2021 - 20 x 30 divided pan, custom Mason arch, 34 producing taps out of 50. 8 gallons for family and friends to judge and Dad hooked as well.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Oneida NY
    Posts
    11,108

    Default

    Back 19 seasons ago I filtered using a cone and pre-filters. The biggest issue was keeping the syrup hot enough. If you have a turkey fryer pot, try to come up with a way to hang the cone filter into the pot, pour the hot syrup into the cone, then cover the pot. It will work. Then after filtering, heat again on a slow heat to 185-189, and pack into bottles. Only heat what you can pour into bottles without going below 180. Then pour more into heat and repeat. Don't try to heat it all at once or you lose temperature and need to re-heat, that can cause more niter to form.
    Dave Klish about 400 taps, down from much more. Retired from collecting and boiling in 2021. Mostly because of a bad hip.
    2012 Mahindra 36 HP 4x4/ loader/cab/heat/AC:-)
    3x8 raised flue evaporator
    250 GPH converted to electric, RO by Ray Gingerich
    6.32 KW solar system, 1.48KW is battery backed up, all net metered
    website: www.cnymaple.com

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    chester, ma
    Posts
    503

    Default

    Okay a couple of quick thoughts:

    1 - You might get more hits on this topic if you posted it in the "bottling" forum rather than the "Massachusetts" forum.

    2 - Sounds like your volume is at least 50% more than mine, so my methods might need some tweaking to fit you, but I bet they wouldn't be too far off.
    - Draw off the evaporator at roughly 219
    - Allow most niter to settle by leaving in the fridge for a few days
    - Pour the good stuff into your finishing pot, and save all the dregs (we'll get to those later)
    - Bring the good stuff to a boil, correct it to 67 brix, and pour through pre-filters and filter using "sailors hat" method into a coffee urn.
    - Bottle out of the coffee urn
    - Take the dregs, combine them and add water. Leave these in the fridge until the niter settles out again. Pour the good stuff into a new container and dump the dregs. This good stuff will be way under syrup, but it lets you recover most of the sugar (which you can add to the next batch)
    - Take the felt filter when you're done bottling, put it in the freezer, and next time you're boiling, run your fresh sap through it. This will get sometimes nearly a cup of syrup back into your evaporator that would otherwise go down the drain. Then clean your filter well before the next batch.

    Cheers,

    GO
    Last edited by berkshires; 05-03-2021 at 03:54 PM.
    2016: Homemade arch from old woodburning stove. 2 steam tray pans. 6 taps on buckets. 1.1 galls
    2017: Same homemade evaporator, but souped up. Still 2 steam tray pans. 15 taps on buckets. 4.5 galls
    2018: Same setup. Limited time. 12 taps and short season. 2.2 gallons
    2019: Still very limited time. Downsized to 7 taps and a short season. 1.8 gallons
    2020: 9 taps, new Mason 2x3 XL halfway through season, 2 gallons
    2021: 18 taps. Mason 2x3 XL, 4.5 galls

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